Inhibition of nitric oxide synthase fails to disrupt the development of cholinergic fiber patches in the rat superior colliculus

R. R. Mize, C. A. Scheiner, M. F. Salvatore, R. J. Cork

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16 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide may serve as a retrograde messenger to refine or stabilize synapses in the developing nervous system. Whether this action is dependent upon glutamate and the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor is not yet established. We have used the patch-cluster system in the intermediate gray layer (IGL) of the rat superior colliculus (SC), a system receiving both glutamatergic and cholinergic input, to study this question. The normal distribution and development of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) in SC was examined using nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase (NADPH-d) histochemistry in Sprague-Dawley rats aged P4 to adulthood. Fibers containing acetylcholine (ACh) were identified using choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) immunocytochemistry. In addition, Nω-nitro-L-arginine, an inhibitor of NOS, was injected intraperito-neally from birth until P10, P14, PI 8, or P21–22 to determine if NOS inhibition would disrupt the formation of the ACh patches. Control animals were studied from the same age groups. Our results show NADPH-d-labeled cells within the periaqueductal gray and the deep gray layer of SC by P4, the earliest age examined. By P8–P9, cells in the IGL were well labeled by NADPH-d, while few in the superficial layers (SL) were labeled. SL cells were visible by P10 and were intensely labeled by P14. IGL cells transiently expressed NADPH-d in that the number of labeled cells increased from P8 to P35, then decreased in the adult. ChAT-labeled fibers first appeared in the IGL at P10, formed a characteristic two-tier pattern by PI4, and established obvious patches by P21. Inhibition of NOS from birth produced no qualitative differences in the distribution or density of either ChAT-labeled fibers or NADPH-d-labeled cells and fibers at any of the ages examined. We therefore conclude that NO does not contribute to the refinement of cholinergic fiber patches in the rat SC, probably because the fiber system is not glutamatergic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-273
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1997


  • Acetylcholine
  • Axon pathfinding
  • Nco-nitro-L-arginine
  • Nitric oxide
  • Synapse formation
  • Visual system


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